Drinks news: February

By Nola James

5 Feb, 2024

Your monthly round-up of Australian drinks news.

Catch up with the latest, including a flash new WA hospitality complex, syrah blanc for summer and new holiday spot on Tasmania’s Cradle Coast.

Marnong Estate

Alex Beckett joins Sunbury’s Marnong Estate

The Hunter Valley’s loss is Sunbury’s gain, with Briar Ridge winemaker Alex Beckett taking up the role of head winemaker at Marnong Estate, a $35 million property overlooking Victoria’s Macedon Ranges. His arrival is bolstered by $15 million in renovations, including an upgraded cellar door, onsite accommodation and a petting zoo (yes, a petting zoo).

Back at Briar Ridge, which is a five red star Halliday winery, Andrew Duff is now running the show. The NZ-trained winemaker was a Len Evans scholar in 2022 and has worked at other Hunter Valley wineries including Pooles Rock and (just recently) Hart &

Busselton Pavilion

Go west: Busselton Pavilion

The vibrant beach town of Busselton, at the southwest tip of Western Australia, has a flash new hospitality precinct courtesy of developer John Parker (The Royal Hotel, Fleur, Willi’s, The Standard, Dandelion). With room for 500 punters, Busselton Pavilion is a multifaceted dining destination encompassing a wine shop and gastropub, with an in-house distillery to follow over the coming months. 

In the kitchen, Parker Group Culinary Director Brendan Pratt (ex-Vasse Felix) has imported a high-end rotisserie from France, with much of the menu infused with its flavour. The offering will showcase the best of WA on a plate, from grass-fed beef to line-caught seafood from the Great Southern. 

Wine director Cyndal Petty’s list leans local, with top-notch international selections rounding out the bottle list for dine in and takeaway, while spirits director Elise Godwin’s cocktails reflect the Pav’s (as it’s affectionately known) laid back coastal vibes.

Best’s Wines 2023 Syrah Blanc

Best’s Wines release 2023 Syrah Blanc

Best’s Wines has released its 2023 Syrah Blanc, which is made with shiraz grapes from the Sugarloaf vineyard in Great Western. “Shiraz has always been part of our story, and this new release white wine was a great way to innovate, pay tribute to our past and use exceptional fruit that would otherwise not have had a home,” says managing director Ben Thomson. Think of it as a cross between a pinot gris and sauvignon blanc, with pear, apple and stone fruit notes. RRP $25.

Inside the Ghost Rock accommodation

Ghost Rock retreat

Visitors to Ghost Rock Vineyard on Tasmania’s Cradle Coast can now spend the night, with a self-contained three-bedroom, two-bathroom residence available for short stays. The subregion, about 10 minutes from the Spirit of Tasmania terminal in Devonport, is as remote as they come – Ghost Rock is one of the only cellar doors in the area. 

The Vineyard House, once the owners’ childhood home, has been lovingly renovated, with a full kitchen featuring top-line appliances, upcycled furnishings and access to a well-tended kitchen garden. Use it as a base for a long lunch at Ghost Rock’s excellent onsite restaurant before venturing further afield to explore northern Tasmania’s fantastic breweries, distillers and farm gates.

Inside Lisa McGuigan's Vamp rooms

Hunter night out 

On Friday, 15 March, Lisa McGuigan will host Aria-nominated concert pianist Van-Anh Nguyen at Vamp Wine Rooms in Pokolbin, NSW. The evening will showcase five wines personally selected by Lisa to complement Van-Anh’s musical talent and a five-course menu by chef Jonothan Heath. Tickets are $240 each and can be purchased online here